Ducks-Stars Preview

About this time two years ago, the Anaheim Ducks were set to

begin their Stanley Cup title defense against the Dallas Stars.

Neither team has to worry about any such preparations this

year.

The only two Pacific Division clubs not headed to the playoffs

will meet Thursday night with the Ducks looking to spoil the Stars’

final home game of the season.

If Anaheim (38-31-10) wins, that would assure Dallas (35-31-14)

of its first last-place finish in a division since 1995-96 when it

was part of the Central.

Both clubs were eliminated from the playoff race this week. The

Ducks, less than three years removed from winning the Stanley Cup,

failed to qualify for the first time since 2004. The Stars defeated

Anaheim in the opening round in 2008 en route to the Western

Conference finals, but now have failed to make the playoffs in

back-to-back years.

“It’s been a tough year,” Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer said.

“We’re disappointed that we’re in this situation. We’re not happy

at all.”

Anaheim was officially ousted from the postseason chase Tuesday,

when it blew a three-goal lead in a 5-4 shootout loss to Los

Angeles. The Kings became the third Pacific team to make the

playoffs, joining San Jose and Phoenix.

“We knew it was a longshot to make the playoffs, but we still

wanted to play well,” winger Teemu Selanne said.

Selanne scored twice to give him five goals in the last four

games and 605 for his career. With three games left in what he

expects to be his final NHL season, Selanne is three goals shy of

Dino Ciccarelli for 16th place all-time.

He’s scored once in his last 11 games against the Stars.

The Ducks have averaged only 1.7 goals in losing nine of 12 at

Dallas, dropping both meetings there this season.

Anaheim, though, has been playing fairly well, going 8-2-2 in

their last 12 and winning three straight on the road.

Dallas was on a 5-2-1 surge before dropping its last two,

including a 5-2 home loss to Chicago on Tuesday.

“We looked like a team that had been eliminated from the

playoffs,” coach Marc Crawford said.

The defeat dropped the Stars to 22-11-7 at American Airlines

Center entering their home finale.

This could be the home crowd’s last chance to say goodbye to

Marty Turco, who may be playing his final game in a Stars uniform.

It appears likely the veteran netminder will be moving to a

different team in the offseason after spending his first nine NHL

seasons with Dallas and becoming the Stars’ all-time leader with

261 wins and 40 shutouts.

Stars forward Brad Richards has 91 points and needs three in the

final two games to break Mike Modano’s single-season club record

since the team moved to Dallas in 1993. Richards has three goals

and six assists during a six-game point streak.